CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — The family of a man who died while he was in the Clayton County Jail is searching for answers. They want to know how their loved died, especially after claims he was being beaten.
Chaka Stewart’s mother told Channel 2′s Audrey Washington that her son begged her to help him come up with the money to post bail and get out of jail. Just a few hours later, he was dead.
“It’s a pain you cannot describe,” said Stewart’s mother, Jacqueline Gordon.
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Through tears, Gordon told Washington about the last time she got to speak to her son.
“He said, ‘They’re beating me, and I’m not allowed to use the phone. They’re keeping me in a cell for 23 hours.’ He said, ‘I’m sneaking on the phone right now. Y’all have to get me out of here,’” she said.
Stewart was booked into the jail earlier this month after he was arrested following a chase that ended near the Fayetteville estate of rapper Rick Ross.
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“He said, ‘The guards are beating me.’ I said, ‘Why are they beating you?’ He said, ‘Because I ran, and I’m from New Orleans.’ He said, ‘They’re beating me around the clock.’ He said, ‘That’s all they do,’” said another family member Dernell Johnson.
A few hours after that call was made, officers on duty said they found Stewart unresponsive in his cell.
The family says they were told his cause of death was suicide, but his mother does not believe that. She wants a full investigation into his death.
“We just need answers. We need transparency. We need know what happened to our loved one when they go behind the cell,” she said.
The Clayton County Sheriff’s Office has requested a formal investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
This comes after a federal indictment against Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill, who is accused of ordering his employees to use excessive force against four detainees.
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“It’s me today, but it can be you tomorrow, and I don’t feel like any parent should have to bury their child,” a heartbroken Gordon said.
Washington reached out to the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office for a comment on this matter, but did not hear back.
The family has set up a GoFundMe account to help pay for funeral expenses here.